ACTIVISTS staged a demonstration on Sturminster Newton Mill footbridge on Saturday, to raise awareness about the need to protect waterways from sewage, farming and industrial chemicals.

Representatives from Planet Shaftesbury, Extinction Rebellion (XR) Shaftesbury and the North Dorset Red Rebel Brigade took part in the action, also using the event to urge residents to write to their MPs to gather support for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.

Beth Lewis from XR Shaftesbury said: “Our beloved River Stour and Poole Harbour is being repeatedly polluted with raw sewage and hazardous chemicals from farmland run off in heavy weather. It’s not safe for wildlife and it’s not safe for us.

“The public should know that the government is failing to act on the ecological emergency, is failing to hold water companies to account for their poor performance and has left the Environment Agency disastrously underfunded. Climate change will only make matters worse.

"We will get more extreme weather and more sewage in our rivers.”

Richard Ecclestone, also from XR Shaftesbury, added: “Government must act now to address climate change and actively conserve our waterways by adopting the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.

"It’s our best chance to ensure that the UK does its fair share to limit global temperatures to 1.5C of warming and to ensure that we actively conserve the natural world."